About PPEP



In 1967, while working for the Head Start program, Dr. Arnold wrote a grant proposal and submitted it to the Tucson War on Poverty Program, which was funded by grants initiated by the Kennedy/Johnson administration. The grant was funded at $19,000 and PPEP was born. Dr. Arnold purchased a 1957, 48-passenger, school bus and equipped it with educational books and supplies. He painted it green and named it “La Tortuga.” He was the driver, mechanic and school teacher, all rolled into one. Having lived in Mexico, he knew first-hand what it was like to live in an unfamiliar society with a different language and culture. So, he began teaching English and basic education, in his portable classroom, to the same Bracero farm-workers he had ministered to in the past, helping them prepare for life in America, by gaining a practical education. Hence, “Portable, Practical Educational Preparation.”

From its humble beginnings, PPEP grew and prospered and today it boasts of over 500 employees, making it one of the top 100 Employers in Arizona. La Tortuga’s legacy lives on and Doctor John David Arnold, PPEP’s CEO, continues to advocate for the poor and neglected citizens of not only Arizona, but the world. Every service PPEP has provided to the over 4,000,000 people over the past 40+ years, has been driven by Doctor Arnold’s dedication and commitment to the cause. See the History page and Programs pages for more details on PPEP’s successes.

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Dr. John Arnold

Dr. John David Arnold

Dr. John David Arnold was born in ‘Pennsylvania Dutch Country’ on a small farm located near Doylestown in Bucks County. His late father whose family dates from the early 1600’s was a writer and inventor, who wrote the first motor tourist guide of Mexico for Triple A and Popular Mechanics Magazines in the 1950’s. His mother was an artist, sculptor, and micro business owner of Grayce’s Gift Shop in Patagonia, Arizona until age of 97. Dr. Arnold has two sisters, Janie & Elaine. Dr. Arnold has been a resident of Arizona for over five decades and presently resides in both Tucson and Patagonia, Arizona. Dr. Arnold is a single parent with three daughters and one stepson; Loree, Renato, (born in Lima, Peru) Chaska, 20 and Tika, 16. All four have attended and excelled in traditional and public charter schools. Dr. Arnold moved to Guadalajara, Mexico with his family when he was six years old, and attended elementary school at Colegio Cervantes. He moved to Nogales, Arizona after five years in Guadalajara. His family then moved to Tucson’s south side circa 1958 where he attended Wakefield Junior High and Pueblo High Schools. Subsequently, Dr. Arnold graduated from the University of Arizona, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Sociology, two Master’s Degrees in Administration and Education, (M. Ed) with a Ph.D. in the same fields. At age 12, because he spoke Spanish he was invited by his church’s bus ministry to go to the Bracero farmworker camps as an interpreter. At age 16, he drove his own church bus and established the migrant ministries in Santa Cruz Valley, Rillito, and Marana, Arizona. At age 18, he was ordained and pastored the First Southern Baptist Church in Catalina, Arizona. His teaching and coaching career was in private schools where he organized the Arizona Independent High School Athletic Association. His basketball, football, track and baseball teams all won state championships in 1966.

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PPEP’S Mission is “Dedicated to improving the quality of rural life.”

Return on Investment

For every dollar invested in PPEP, whether it is from a government grant or from donors like you, 85% goes directly to the consumer or participant in the program; PPEP spends only 15% on administrative costs. Those dollars spent on PPEP consumers result in: Income from wages and new businesses’ profits, tax credits to local businesses, savings to government programs and more money spent in the local economy.

What is PPEP

  • Portable

    PORTABLE – Easily carried or moved from place to place where the people live and work.

  • Practical

    PRACTICAL – Concerned with matters of fact and real life experience, not theory; and good at managing matters and dealing with problems or difficulties leading to self-sufficiency.

  • Educational

    EDUCATIONAL – The work or planning involved in making somebody ready or in putting something together in advance. Empowerment to succeed and accept life’s challenges.

  • Preparation

    PREPARATION – The work or planning involved in making somebody ready or in putting something together in advance.

How Does It All Connect?

Portable, Practical, Educational Preparation: Providing education, training and practical life skills to empower people, so that they can take the knowledge and skills acquired with them, wherever they go, and deal with every-day problems and challenges, as they occur. PPEP helps people learn to be more self-sufficient and successful and to help their community make progress.

It connects when dedicated professional staff connect with its rural/farm worker clients and provide opportunities to achieve upward mobility. PPEP provides creativity, innovation, and forward thinking in its approach to alleviate poverty.

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